Ratboys at Schubas Tavern

Photo by Alexa Viscius

Written by Grace Wallace

With temps reaching as high as 100 on Wednesday during the album release party,
Friday’s 70-degree evening was a refreshing welcome for Chicagoans venturing to Schubas Tavern to see Ratboys perform in their tour kickoff.

Opening the night was Hollow Bastion, an indie-rock project by lead singer Teagan. Songs like “Heaven Ain’t Even a Place” —“No offense to anyone that thinks it is!” joked the singer— set the right mood for the night, with some memorable moments being an acoustic song featuring bassist Rueben Steiner on harmonica, and Teagan’s solo performance of her song “I’m Just a Guy.”

Once Ratboys took the stage, they immediately jumped into tracks from their new album, The Window. Just released August 25th, the album features an array of tracks, each with its unique sound and style, allowing every listener, whether a rock listener, country-goer, or folk lover, to find a song that resonates with them. This also made for an incredible set, keeping the audience engaged during high-energy songs like “Crossed that Line,” and more vulnerable ones like title-track “The Window.” Their song, “Back Earth, WI” seems daunting on paper given its 8-minute length, but was an incredible live listening experience, with its lyrical imagery, guitar solo, and refrain echoing the captivation of the one in The Beatles’ Hey Jude.

The four-piece band, made up of Julia Steiner, David Sagan, Sean Neumann, and Marcus Nuccio, is a tight-knit one; one could see that the musicians were having as much fun playing together as the crown had listening.

Along with the entirety of the new album, several fan favorites were sprinkled throughout, like “I Go Out at Night” and “Alien With a Sleep Mask On.” As someone who’s been a fan for a while now, it was amazing to finally experience these songs live; there was an added rawness unique to their in-person sound. It took the familiar melodies I stream on my own and gave them a new lens. “Go Outside” is a song I often listen to while biking on the Great Western Trail in the summer— its gentle sound perfectly accompanied my long, peaceful rides of breathing in fresh air, feeling the slight breeze on my skin and sun rays peeking through the trees, just me and nature. Listening to it live created a new meaning for me that emphasized shared experience and connection— both with other concertgoers and the artists themselves. It’s a song that I will not only associate now with biking in nature, but warm summer nights spent with friends, exploring the city we get to call home.

Thank you to Ratboys for an incredible evening of music, and Julia for signing my Vinyl at the listening party! I had the best time covering this show, and know fans with tickets to the other tour dates will as well. Chicagoans even have an additional chance to see Ratboys perform at their tour-closing show at Thalia Hall this December. In the meantime, The Window is out now to listen to!

Follow Ratboys on Instagram and check out their Spotify below!

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